NYC Hispanic Art and Landmarks
A Guide to Masterpieces and Monuments
The Statue of Roberto Clemente, depicting the Puerto Rican baseball superstar saluting his fans after hitting his 3,000 hit in 1972, is at Roberto Clemente State Park, at West 179th St. and West Tremont Ave. in the Bronx.
But reaching that amazing mark, at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh, PA., on Sept. 3, 1972, doesn't say enough about Clemente's even more amazing career. He was an All Star for 12 seasons. He was the most valuable player in 1966 and the batting leader in 1961, 1964, 1965 and 1967. He was a Gold Glove winner 12 consecutive seasons from 1961 to 1972. His batting average was over 300 in 13 seasons. Clemente was the first Puerto Rican player to help win a World Series as a starter, in 1960. He also received a World Series MVP Award in 1971.
Clemente is the pride of the Puerto Rican community. Roberto Enrique Clemente Walker was born on August 18,1934 in Barrio San Anton, Carolina, Puerto Rico, to Don Melchor Clemente and Doña Luisa Walker. He started his professional baseball career in 1952, at the age of 18, with the Cangrejeros de Santurce, a winter league team and franchise of the Puerto Rican Professional Baseball League. From Santurce he signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers and was assigned to play their top affiliate the Montreal Royals. In 1954 Clemente was the first pick of the draft for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He joined the Pirates in 1955.
He was married in 1964. He and his wife had three boys. Sadly, Clemente was killed in a plane crash in the Atlantic Ocean on Dec. 31, 1972, after taking off from Isla Verde, Puerto Rico to take aid to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. In 1973, waiving a five-year retirement period, he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Yet, being a superstar and dying on a humanitarian mission, Clemente's image transcended baseball.
In 1974, the one-year-old "Harlem River Park" was renamed "Roberto Clemente State Park" -- alongside the Harlem River at West 179th St. and West Tremont Ave. An annual "Roberto Clemente Week" recognizing the life of both the talented right fielder and the humanitarian gentleman, is celebrated with a series of special events at the park. The Roberto Clemente Statue, created by sculptor Maritza Rodriguez and donated by Goya Foods, was erected on in the park's recreational playground on July 5, 2013.
By Melissa Trinidad, Lehman College